Rev. Randall, a school chaplain who delivered sermon entitled “Competing Ideologies”, to pupils at Trent College, in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, twice in June 2019, has been heard to have “triggered vehement complaints” by a tribunal set up in Nottingham recently to look into the matter.
The employment tribunal which is slated to last for three weeks, heard how he had disagreed with senior college staff over proposals to implement a programme supposedly drawn up by charity, “Educate and Celebrate”.
The school chaplain in his defence, claimed he was unfairly dismissed from his job after he opposed plans to promote LGBT inclusivity. The tribunal heard that Rev Randall was concerned (having a role in the pastoral care of the students) about some elements contained in the LGBT inclusivity programme being introduced by the fee-paying boarding school.
Giving further evidence, the 49 year old Rev. Randall said he did not believe in parts of the programme’s content, and he opposed them because he found them to be “Marxist and atheist”, and contrary to Christian values and ethos the school was meant to uphold. He went on to say that some of the terminology within the programme were “ideologically loaded and misleading”, highlighting phrases like “sex assigned at birth” and “cisgender”.
Rev Randall told the tribunal: “Educate and Celebrate” went beyond a neutral stance of inclusivity into the implantation of ideas I consider to be identity politics.”
He further stated at the tribunal, that he pointed out to his managers, his belief that some of the content went against Christian values and the stated aims of the school to educate boys and girls “in accordance with the Protestant and Evangelical principles of the Church of England”.
Further into the hearings, the tribunal heard that the school had held a session in September 2018 when representatives of the previously stated charity, urged staff to chant “smash heteronormativity” – the concept that heterosexuality is the normal form of sexual orientation – while assembled in the dining hall.
Rev Randall finding the chanting worrying, said he did not take part in it and went on to challenge the charity representatives who were present.
He told the tribunal he then raised his concerns with senior staff including his view that it was inappropriate to set up a group called Youth Pride in a Christian school because Pride was “one of the Seven Deadly Sins”, and he claimed that this action later led to him being excluded from discussions regarding the “Educate and Celebrate” programme in the school “because he might disagree with it”.
During chapel services subsequently, Rev Bernard Randall delivered the sermons where he told pupils they did not have to “accept the ideas of LGBT activists”. The tribunal heard that his words “angered” teaching colleagues and distressed some pupils who heard them. After the sermons, senior staff launched disciplinary action against the chaplain, and he was later made redundant. He however, claims that he was discriminated against and unfairly dismissed.
Jeremy Hallows, the school’s deputy head teacher and Rev Randall’s line manager at the time, also told the hearing in Nottingham that he had received written complaints from both teachers and pupils about Rev Randall’s message.
He said: “The volume of complaints was unlike anything I had seen before.”
The deputy head teacher said he was concerned about the emotional impact the sermons would have on pupils and colleagues, so he raised this with Rev Randall, but he was very dismissive of these concerns.
Mr Hallows said: “The claimant [Rev Randall] did not wish to address the distress his sermon had caused.”
On the other hand, Richard O’Dair, representing Rev Randall, said there were only two complaints from about 300 pupils who heard the sermon.
Mr Hallows however, maintained that “the feedback was all very one-way” and that “nobody was coming forward with any kind of support for the sermon.”
He said he felt a sermon to pupils was not the appropriate forum to address the issues Rev Randall had with Educate and Celebrate. Additionally, he said the complaints he later received from the school community had “unprecedented vehemence”.
He added: “One member of staff was nearly in tears as a result of the chapel sermon. Staff were angry and concerned about the welfare of the student community.”
The tribunal has been told that Rev Randall was suspended then dismissed but reinstated on appeal. He was then made to stop work during the 2020 coronavirus lockdown before finally being made redundant later in the year.
Rev. Randall insists that the disciplinary process launched against him after the sermons, in which he said he was upholding British values and the school’s Christian ethos, was discriminatory.
The tribunal remains in procession.
Source: BBC News.
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